Children's Literature - Dr. Judy Rowen
Jake flies down to Brazil to join his father, a research biologist, on a quest to establish a jaguar preserve. Ostensibly, he is there just for the duration of his spring break, but events soon overtake the original plans. Accompanied by the mysterious skipper Silver and an observant Indian tracker, Raul, the Lansa family is embroiled in a series of frightening encounters that threaten to derail the plans for the preserve. Several plot devices are fairly implausible, and clichés such as the "noble savage" mar what is otherwise a taut thriller. The author's experience as a field biologist lends authority to the information about wildlife research.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9Jacob Lansa, 14, has just barely returned from Kenya and settled down to life in Poughkeepsie, NY, when his restless father, a wildlife biologist, is called away to a field project in Brazil. In this sequel to Thunder Cave (Hyperion, 1995), Jacob again joins his father in researching and protecting an endangered speciesthis time it's to save the jaguar and its habitat in the Amazon rainforest. After a mysterious accident kills the expedition leader, seasoned-captain Jay Silver is hired to take the remaining researchers into the tropical interior. As Jacob; Dr. Lansa; and his girlfriend, an experienced botanist, journey up the Amazon River they witness the devastation of the land and indigenous people caused by the influx of fortune seekers and exploitation of natural resources. The group links up with an Indian who helps them take a family of jaguars to the remote region where a refuge is to be established. But even the harsh beauty of an isolated area cannot protect the animals from human greed, and danger lurks in the heart of the jungle. Although the plot sometimes seems contrived, this fast-paced adventure and survival tale blends enough action, suspense, and legend to keep readers interested until the end. Malcolm Bosse's descriptive Deep Dream of the Rainforest (Farrar, 1993) provides a more detailed and intricate look at a similar environment in Borneo for more mature readers.Janet Woodward, Franklin High School, Seattle, WA
The lush tropical rainforest serves as an unexpected but colorful setting for this sequel to Smith's Thunder Cave (1995, not reviewed).
Jake Lansa, 14, is angry when his father, Robert "Doc" Lansa, leaves him in the care of a retirement home with his grandfather, while he goes off to a jaguar preserve in the jungles of Manaus, near Brazil. The early scenes in the retirement facility are humorous and touching, but the pace accelerates once Jake flies down for a visit with his dad. In one of the novel's most dramatic moments, a confrontation between father and son is interrupted by an explosion aboard the boat Doc has chartered. Jake is forced to become the ultralight pilot of the expedition, and to hire the mysterious Captain Silver to take them upriver. Jake's crash course in piloting is exciting, as is the journey. The rainforest in the background brings the plight of this endangered environment into focus for young readers: Smith's portrayal of the decimated forests, the filthy strip-mining towns, and the desolate native tribes is haunting. The mystery aboard ship unravels at a suspenseful pace, and while everyone must work together to insure their survival, Jake emerges a hero. A first-rate adventure about greed, mutual dependence, and family.